Swans v Saints: The big talking points

7th May 2018
First team

​​​​​​​Swansea City go in search of what could be a pivotal victory in the fight for Premier League survival when they take on Southampton at the Liberty tomorrow night (7.45pm).

Here are all the key talking points heading into a crucial game.


Crunch time

The clock is ticking and the time has come to deliver. Having looked doomed when Carlos Carvalhal was appointed, the Swans put together a spectacular run of form which lifted them to five points clear of the drop zone at one stage.

Now, after their weekend defeat at Bournemouth made it seven league games without a win, they are back in the bottom three with two games of the season remaining.

Carvalhal had hoped his team could survive with something to spare.

Instead, they need one big result this week – and possibly two – to stay up.


Fortress Liberty?

The good news for the Swans is that their two remaining fixtures, against Southampton and Stoke, are at home.

The Bournemouth defeat means the Swans took just 12 points from their 19 away league games this season – their worst tally since promotion to the top flight.

But at home, since Carvalhal was appointed, the Swans have been formidable opponents.

They may have been beaten last time out at the Liberty, by Chelsea, but Carvalhal’s men have proved repeatedly in the second half of this season that they are a tough nut to crack on their own patch.

Liverpool, Arsenal, Burnley and West Ham have all been beaten in SA1, while Everton were fortunate to claim a 1-1 draw.

Even in their defeats, against Chelsea and Spurs, the Swans deserved more than they got.

If they can maintain the levels they have shown since January at home in these final days of the season, the Swans should get the job done.


Saints sins

The Swans do not have a great record against Southampton in the Premier League era.

They beat them at the Liberty last season, when goals from Alfie Mawson and Gylfi Sigurdsson were enough for a key victory for Paul Clement’s team.

But that was only the Swans’ second triumph over the Saints in the Premier League, with the other coming courtesy of Jonjo Shelvey’s late goal at St Mary’s in 2015.

The most recent meeting, on the South Coast on the opening day of the season, saw the Swans claim a battling goalless draw.

They will want more than that in the return fixture.


Who’s in the mix?

Whatever happens tonight, the fight to stay up will go to the final day.

If Southampton win, Mark Hughes’s team will be in a very strong position given that they will be three points better off than the Swans with a significantly better goal difference.

While the Swans face Stoke on the final day, Saints are at home to Manchester City.

West Brom, remarkably, are still in the mix. They are hoping for a draw in the Swans’ game against Southampton, which would give them a chance should both clubs lose while they win against Crystal Palace on the final day.

Huddersfield, who are 16th, also remain in the relegation battle for now. They are currently three points better off than the Swans and Southampton, but face tricky games at Chelsea on Wednesday and at home to Arsenal on the final day.


Any changes?

Will Carvalhal stick with the side which started against Bournemouth, or might he look to tweak something?

There are contenders to come into the side, such as Sam Clucas, Andy King and Tammy Abraham.

Kyle Naughton may also be a contender for a recall after illness, while Renato Sanches is still hoping to play a part in the final push to stay up.

Could Carvalhal change the shape of his team? He has shown he is not afraid to tinker with the system.

Then again, he might feel three at the back has served the Swans well in recent months, particularly at home.